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Thursday 13 December 2018

Glamour tie may be lost

Hurlers to be stripped of home venue for Limerick game

Ian Byrne is back in the Wexford hurling fold for the 2019 campaign
Ian Byrne is back in the Wexford hurling fold for the 2019 campaign

Brendan Furlong

Wexford look set to lose their glamour opening round Allianz Hurling League home game with All-Ireland champions Limerick, scheduled for Sunday, January 27, in Innovate Wexford Park.

Following the controversy surrounding training camps during the prohibited period, Wexford and Waterford hurlers, plus the footballers of Armagh and Laois, are the four counties that have felt the full wrath of a Croke Park investigation that originally involved 17 counties.

Wexford hurlers and Armagh footballers were located in Portugal approximately the same week, while Waterford and Laois went to venues in Ireland for weekend sessions, which Croke Park deemed to be in contravention of a rule covering championship training.

It was made quite clear to counties, to facilitate more time for club activity, particularly during the month of April, that squads are not permitted to embark on an 'away' training weekend in the period after the league, except for a ten-day period before their first championship game.

Wexford, along with the three other sanctioned counties, have sought a hearing with the Central Hearings Committee, arguing that while they did engage in 'away' sessions, they did not break the rule.

County Secretary Margaret Doyle, the G.A.A's official spokesperson, confirmed on Thursday that Wexford would be seeking a hearing.

'It's not an appeal but a hearing we will be seeking. The hearing is expected to take place on Monday night (last night). We will be putting our best foot forward and take it from there,' she said.

Dublin footballers avoided any sanction, insisting at the time that a trip they undertook did not involve training, and was, in fact, an historical pursuit.

While the G.A.A. accepted that explanation as tweeted by player Ciarán Kilkenny when the alleged transgression erupted, Wexford's explanation from Lee Chin, that some of the players decided to go abroad for a holiday together, fell on deaf ears.

The claims of Wexford hurlers and Dublin footballers that their trips involved no training was regarded with scepticism at the time, but it appears to have been accepted in the latter's case.

It also appears that Dublin must have put forward a professional argument to back their case, while Wexford's submission obviously failed to carry the same strength.

The loss of the Limerick game, should it be moved to a neutral venue, could prove a huge blow to their league prospects.

Meanwhile, Wexford hurlers are heading off to Boston for next weekend's Fenway Super 11s game with Limerick, which will also feature Cork and Clare.

The Wexford party will include a squad of 24 players, four from team management, and they will be accompanied by the Chairman, Derek Kent, and Vice-Chairman, Micheál Martin.

Manager Davy Fitzgerald and company will be travelling minus the Naomh Eanna contingent - Conor McDonald, Gary and Eoin Molloy - due to the Leinster Club semi-final against Ballyhale Shamrocks. Also unavailable to travel are St. Martin's duo, Rory O'Connor and Willie Devereux.

Fitzgerald has brought in Ian Byrne (Ferns St. Aidan's), Seamus Casey (Oylegate-Glenbrien) and James Breen (Adamstown) to his squad for the 2019 campaign, while both Michael O'Regan (Glynn-Barntown) and Colm Kehoe (Cloughbawn) are no longer part of the hurling set-up.

With the club championships running into October, Fitzgerald has said they have had no time for preparation for the game but they will be giving it everything.

'We will give it our best shot. Training for the squad resumes on December 1.

'We will be trying to balance out training to cover both league and championship,' he added.

Enniscorthy Guardian

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